Thursday, December 16, 2010

Report: Free software Localisation Training in Mali

From 6 to 9 December 2010 I was in Mali to participate in the first FOSS Localisation Training organized by ANLoc. The training was held in Bamako, with participants from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Congo, Niger, Rwanda, and me from Morocco.

To understand what is localisation and why it is important here is a quote from the introduction of the book "Effecting change
through localisation: Localisation guide for Free and Open Source Software" that has been distributed to participants:
Computer software is often created to communicate with the user in a certain language, such as English. For the software to be usable by people who speak a different language, the software messages would have to be translated. This process is at the heart of software localisation.
Localisation really refers to all the changes made to a product to adapt it to a new language, country, culture or even legislation.
Personally, I think that Localisation or l10n of free and open source software in African languages like Bamabara, Songhai, Tamazight,... and others is not a luxury or just to please our self-esteem and ego, but a real necessity to reach people and teach them and give them a way to communicate in their mother tongue which is considered a human right.

The training was done by Mohomodou Houssouba the team leader of the Songhai localisation team and known for his contribution to Mozilla Firefox translation into Songhai.
We had interesting and rich discussion about the challenges faced by the localisation of our languages: the lack of dictionaries, unified terminology and sometimes lack of it, and some major languages don't even have a keyboard to enter thier special characters...and in the next days we started practical training with online traslation with pootle and offline translation using virtaal, and we've been introduced to the various features of the tools (translation memory, terminology creation, testing...).

I am grateful to ANLoc and Ubuntu Mali local team for organising such event and for IDRC for funding and support.

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